First Visit to the Zoo!

It’s Spring time at the zoo! Calling all infants and toddlers! Most children enjoy going to the zoo and seeing different zoo animals. If you will be taking your child to the zoo for the very first time, here are some fun ways to introduce them to what the zoo is all about!

Reading books to your child is a great way to introduce your child to zoo animals. Find some great zoo storybooks at your local library. You can talk about the different zoo animals and explain how zoo animals are taken care of and where they live. Some favourite picks for toddlers are Try Zoo Faces by Lucy Schultz, Zoo Babies: A Mini AniMotion Book by Accord Publishing, Little Scholastic: Zoo by Salina Yoon, or The Zoo I Drew by Todd H. Doodler (all available at Chapters).

Play with wooden zoo puzzles. This is a fun way to show your child different zoo animals.

Here’s a great online game you can play with your Infant or Toddler, produced by Fisher Price. Let’s Visit the ABC’s Zoo not only allows your child to explore some animal fun but they can learn the name of the animal and the sound it makes, along with alphabet at the same time!

Use arts and crafts to teach your child about zoo animals. Playdough using zoo animal cookie cutters is a great activity to help toddlers recognize animals and learn their names.

Make the most of your zoo visit…

The zoo is fun because it’s unstructured playtime for you and your child. You can visit at your own pace and take your time at the various pavilions. If possible, make sure the zoo has a petting zoo so that your toddler can experience some friendly animals up close. Don’t forget to visit the zoo babies in the Spring.

Before heading out, visit the zoo’s website to find out what activities are being offered and at what time. Check for shows, special guests, or kid-friendly characters. Your child may tire quickly from visiting zoo exhibits so a show could be a fun way to spend part of the day. Start small and map out your visit. Decide ahead of time what animals or exhibits you’d like to see. It is not necessary to see all the animals in a single trip. You can always lengthen zoo visits as your toddler gets older. If your child enjoys the visit, consider a season’s pass for repeat outings.

Ask about zookeeper talks, which can be a more interesting and interactive experience for your child. The Toronto Zoo offers a great concept: a Kids Zoo uniquely designed for kids 9 and under. Activities range from the educational to the creative to just plain fun! And close to the Kids Zoo - is the Discovery Zone; the colourful Splash Island with an exciting 2-acre water play area which treats children of all ages to water fun amidst the variety of Canada's wetlands; and the fabulous Waterside Theatre, home of Family Fun Entertainment, which hosts special kid-friendly guests throughout the season. The Kids Zoo is free with your regular zoo admission. The Kids Zoo usually opens in April.

Now, when you child goes to the zoo, he or she will have some familiarity as to what they are seeing, and will be all ready for an amusing day at the zoo! Take lots of pictures to document the trip.

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